human & social rights
2013-05-23: The U.N. Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, announced the launch of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) on 9 August 2012.
UN SDSN is structured around 12 Thematic Groups of scientific and technical experts – from academia, civil society, and the private sector – who work in support of Sustainable Development Problem Solving at local, national, and global scales … and to identify and highlight best practices. They also provide technical support to the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
Click the Link Above to read and/or download PDF File (559 Kb)
The world has changed profoundly since the year 2000, when the UN Millennium Declaration and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) were adopted by the United Nations. Four critical shifts make the coming fifteen-year period, 2015-2030, different from the MDG period, 2000-2015: (i) a drastically higher human impact on the physical Earth; (ii) rapid technological change; (iii) increasing inequality; and (iv) a growing diffusion and complexity of governance.
These problems will expand, dangerously beyond our control, without an urgent and radical transformation in how we organize society. The world now needs an operational Sustainable Development Framework which can mobilize all key actors (national & local governments, civil society, business, science and academia) in every country to move away from the Business-as-Usual (BaU) Trajectory towards a Sustainable Development (SD) Path. This Framework and the SDG’s identify the main objectives and strategies needed to transform from BaU to SD.
The purpose of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) is to help translate global aspirations into practical actions. In this regard, SDSN has subscribed to the ‘Rio+20′ Agreement that the SDG’s should be ‘action-oriented, concise and easy to communicate, limited in number, aspirational, global in nature and universally applicable to all countries while taking into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development, and respecting national policies and priorities’.
SDI’s Comments on … ‘Action Agenda for Sustainable Development & Sustainable Development Goals’
[ Submitted by e-mail, yesterday (2013-05-22), to the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network.]
1. The problems with this Document, dated 7 May 2013, are fundamental and profound. Our Organization will be happy to assist the Network (SDSN) in improving the text.
2. At this time, however, we would like to bring to your attention some urgent overarching issues:
- Amend the Title … refer directly to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). See above.
- As drafted, the text does not show that … or explain how … there is a robust Interdependence between the different Sustainable Development Goals.
- Indeed, the scale and immediacy of the Sustainable Development Challenges are unprecedented. The Network (SDSN) must now, therefore, take the brave and difficult step of placing the Sustainable Development Goals in order of priority. Do not allow yourselves to be shackled by the approach taken in the earlier Millennium Development Goals !
- In this Document, All of the texts dealing with ‘Governance’ are ambiguous, weak and embarrassingly inadequate. References to the Institutional, Political, Legal and Judicial Aspects of ‘Governance’ are both necessary, and required.
- The word ‘access’ is used very often and very generally in the Document. BUT … in order for People with Activity Limitations (2001 WHO ICF) to ‘access’ facilities and services in the Built (including Virtual), Social and Economic Environments, and to be included and participate fully in their local communities … it is an ESSENTIAL prerequisite that those Environments are effectively ACCESSIBLE-FOR-ALL ! This concept is not mentioned once in the Document … a very serious omission.
2013-04-02: Sustainable Design International Ltd. (SDI) is pleased to announce that its Managing Director, C.J. Walsh, has been invited to be ‘Project Design Architect’ / ‘Design Professional in Responsible Charge’ for a New 32 Storey Hotel in Yunnan Province, People’s Republic of China (PRC).
He will have responsibility for the Project’s Architectural Concept Design and General Schematic Design … including the overall architectural character and profile of primary exterior surfaces.
Project Total Value = € 65 Million (Euros) … excluding interior design, finishes and furnishing (which could end up doubling, or even tripling, the overall project value).
Sustainable Design International Ltd. maintains a strict practice policy of Client Confidentiality.
[ If this Type of Professional Design Service Appeals to You, or Your Organization - Contact Us Immediately ! ]
An estimated One Billion People will be living in China’s cities by 2030. This large-scale and very rapid urbanization demands that a sustainable transformation of their urban built, social, economic and institutional environments commences Today – not at some notional point in a far distant future.
Furthermore … replicating a European approach to sustainable design and construction in other regions of the world is doomed to failure. Urban Transformation in China must be adapted to Local Geography, Climate, Climate Change, Social Needs, Cultures, Economy, and Local Severe Events (e.g. earthquakes, flooding). With European support and collaboration … China must, and will, find its own way.
Click the Link Above to read and/or download a PDF File (4.42 Mb)
Report on a One-Day China Advisory Council Roundtable, co-organized by Friends of Europe and EuroChambres, which was held in Brussels on 8 March 2012. This event was part of an ‘Understanding China’ Programme (mid-2009 to mid-2012), co-funded by the European Commission.
THIS TALL BUILDING IN YUNNAN PROVINCE & SIMILAR COMPLEX ARCHITECTURAL PROJECTS
Working within the professional constraints of ‘client confidentiality’ … it is possible to have a general discussion about current building design, construction and operation issues in an international sector which is operating, more and more, beyond national borders … without adequate, or very often any, national and local regulation. By ‘regulation’, I mean a flexible system of building-related legislation which is operated in conjunction with mandatory and effective technical control.
In order to cope with today’s complex built environment and the enormous variation in the size and scale of construction projects … a ‘flexible’ mix of functional, performance and prescriptive legal requirements is the sharpest and most appropriate instrument.
And you can forget the hype about performance-based building codes coming out of the USA … hot air, and much ado about little !
Of course, the biggest issue of all is the competence of those individuals who work in Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ’s), i.e. technical controllers. Even in the most developed economies of the world … there are many occasions when the level of individual incompetence in an AHJ is astounding … and institutional arrangements within the AHJ itself are a mess, i.e. the AHJ is not fit for purpose.
1. Sustainable Design demands Design Process Efficiency & Proper Preparation for Construction
A tremendous amount of waste is associated with and generated by the processes of conventional building design, construction and operation. There is a more up-to-date and efficient way of doing things … an essential way for Sustainable Design … and it’s called Building Information Modelling (BIM) !
Furthermore … consider, for a moment, just the initial list of Specialist Consultants who will be engaged directly by the Chinese Client when the project’s conceptual design has reached a sufficiently developed stage. How can all of these individuals and organizations – listed in the revised and agreed Project Design Agreement – obtain accurate and reliable ‘real time’ information about the rapidly evolving project from a central design library / information database … then feed their new work back into the centre without unnecessary delay ? How, next, can everyone else who needs to know, be updated with the new design input … again, without delay ? And perhaps, these consultants may also be based in different countries … working in very different time zones …
- Building Information Modelling (BIM) Consultant
- Local Design Institute (LDI) … a local architectural practice which will produce the project’s working drawings, handle local spatial planning and building code approvals, carry out site inspections, and deal directly with construction organization(s), etc., etc.
- Interior Design Consultant
- Traffic / Parking Analysis Consultant
- Curtain Wall Consultant (Curtain Wall, Skylights & Special Roof Structures)
- Retail Market Analysis Consultant
- Landscape Design Consultant
- Quantity Surveying & Cost Estimating Consultant
- Furniture Design Consultant
- Geotechnical, Civil Engineering & Structural Engineering Consultant (including structural performance under fire and earthquake conditions, resistance to fire-induced progressive damage and disproportionate damage … and also including climate resilience)
- Acoustic & Audio-Visual Design Consultant
- Mechanical, Electrical & Plumbing (MEP) Engineering Consultant
- Integrated Building Automation & Management / Telecom / Security / Networking Consultant
- Fire & Life-Safety Engineering Consultant
- Water Feature Consultant
- Wind Tunnel Test Consultant
- Kitchen Equipment and Layout Design Consultant
- Art, Artefact and Accessories Consultant & Procurement Services for Art, Artefacts, and Accessories
- Tenant Storefront Design Consultant
- Helicopter Landing Pad Design Consultant
- Universal Design / Accessibility for All Consultant [including access to the building, electronic, information and communication technologies (EICT's), and services offered at the hotel ... and including fire safety, protection and evacuation for all]
2. The ‘Design Professional in Responsible Charge’ !
The Project Design Agreement requests that the Client receive advice on who might be the different Specialist Consultants listed above. In addition, it will be necessary to demarcate the boundaries within which each Consultant will operate … and, where appropriate, to prescribe a design performance target (see below) for each speciality … which must be ‘realized’ in the completed and occupied building !
Recalling the many previous posts, here on this Technical Blog, concerning NIST’s 2005 & 2008 Recommendations on the 9-11 World Trade Centre Building Collapses in New York City … ‘somebody’ must ensure that the many individuals and organizations listed above – members of the Larger (2nd Stage) Design Team – use consistent design data and assumptions … must co-ordinate design documents and specifications to identify overlaps and eliminate gaps … must serve as ultimate liaison between the Client, the Local Design Institute, AHJ officials, and the Construction Organization(s) … and must ensure that everybody is on the same communication wavelength, and working towards the same objective in a trans-disciplinary manner.
That ‘Somebody’ … the Design Professional in Responsible Charge … must be the Project Design Architect !
3. Design Performance Targets
2013-03-17: Happy Saint Patrick’s Day !!
Submissions on India’s Draft Amendment No.1 to the 2005 National Building Code (SP 7:2005) concerning the Proposed Incorporation of a New Part 11: ‘Approach to Sustainability’ had to arrive at the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), in Dilli … by e-mail … no later than Friday last, 15 March 2013 …
Indian NBC, Proposed Part 11 on ‘Sustainability’ – December 2012 Consultation
Extract From Foreword (Page 7):
‘ Developed nations’ approach to sustainability generally concentrates on energy conservation through high technology innovations, and use of products, materials and designs with lower embodied energy. Their green ratings are based on intent, which implies expert inputs and simulation. The Indian construction industry will do better using our traditional wisdom and practices, building in harmony with nature through regional common knowledge, consuming as little as necessary, applying low cost technology innovations, using recycled materials, and recognizing performance (not intent) through easily measurable parameters wherever feasible.’
How Right They Are About Prioritizing ‘Real’ Performance !!
And Just Before That Extract Above:
‘ The authentic (my insert !) Indian way of life is aparigraha (minimum possessions), conservation (minimum consumption), and recycling (minimum waste). These three attributes are the guiding principles for sustainable buildings as well. With these attributes and its rich heritage, India can make a substantial contribution in this field and eventually lead the world on the path of sustainability.’
An Overly Ambitious Target ? Perhaps Not.
SDI Supporting India’s National Sustainable Buildings Strategy …
We very much welcome this opportunity to make a Submission on India’s Draft Amendment No.1 to the 2005 National Building Code (SP 7:2005) concerning the Proposed Inclusion of a New Part 11 ‘Approach to Sustainability’.
This IS an important development for India … and it DOES mark a substantial contribution to this field, at international level. We wish that other countries would follow your example … particularly China, the other mushrooming economies in South-East Asia, and the Arab Gulf States.
You may not be aware that Sustainable Design International (SDI) has been specializing in the theory and implementation of a Sustainable Human Environment (social, built, virtual, and economic) since the mid-1990′s.
And, for example … in September 2007, we were invited to make a series of Keynote Presentations to 20 Senior National Decision-Makers, from both the public and private sectors, at a 2-Day Workshop which was organized for us in Lisboa, Portugal. If invited, we would be delighted to repeat this valuable exercise in Dilli, Bengaluru, and other suitable venues in India.
IF India is to lead the world on this particular track, i.e. Sustainable Buildings, a coherent philosophy must be outlined in the Proposed New Part 11 of the National Building Code, and a clear direction must also be given there to decision-makers, e.g. clients/client organizations, and designers.
Certain essential content must be included in Part 11. With regard to an improved layout of Part 11, please review the attached SDI Document: ‘SEED Building Life Cycle’ (PDF File, 55 Kb) .
Because you have prioritized ‘real’ building performance over pre-construction design ‘intent’, it is appropriate to begin our comments here …
1. Sustainability Performance Indicators
In order to prioritize ‘real’ performance, the monitoring of actual sustainability performance in completed and occupied buildings must be comprehensive, accurate and reliable. Indicators of sustainability performance must, therefore, be included in all sections of the Proposed New Part 11.
Sustainability Performance Indicators provide important signposts for decision-making and design in many ways. They can translate physical and social science knowledge into manageable units of information which facilitate the decision-making and design processes. They can help to measure and calibrate progress towards sustainable development goals, and sectoral sustainability targets. They can provide an early warning to prevent economic, social and environmental damage and harm. They are also important tools to communicate ideas, thoughts and values because, as statisticians say: “We measure what we value, and value what we measure”.
Performance Indicators may be both quantitative and qualitative … but must cover all stages of the building process, i.e. project feasibility and performance specification, spatial planning, design, construction, management, operation, maintenance and servicing, de-construction, disposal, final site clean-up and sustainable repair.
While many, though not all, types of building performance can be successfully monitored using lightweight portable equipment … a certain number of monitoring devices must also be permanently installed in the building during construction. A facility to reliably feed the output from these devices back to data collection points, on site and remote, must also be incorporated in the Building’s Intelligent Management System.
Management and collation of sustainability performance data must be reliable. Uncertainty is always present. Therefore, Statements of Uncertainty should always be attached to ‘reliable’ data.
Safety Factors should always be included when targeting critical ‘health and safety’ related types of performance.
Sustainability Performance Indicators must be directly comparable across different Global Regions … within Asia, across different countries … and within India, across different States. A Balanced, Harmonized Core Set of Indian Performance Indicators should be quickly developed. A Balanced ‘Local’ Set of Performance Indicators will always be necessary.
People tasked with monitoring sustainable building performance must be competent … and independent, i.e. be unconnected to client, design and construction organizations.
Specifically in relation to Energy Performance, the targets to be achieved in new buildings must be far more ambitious. Please review the attached SDI Document: ‘SEED Positive Energy Buildings’ (PDF File, 29 Kb) .
2. Properly Defining ‘Sustainable Development’
As currently drafted … Definition 2.26 Sustainable Development, on Page 13 of the Proposed New Part 11, is not only ambiguous, it is inadequate for India’s needs … and it is barely the first half of the full, correct definition …
Sustainable Development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It contains within it two key concepts:
- the concept of ‘needs’, in particular the essential needs of the world’s poor, to which overriding priority should be given ; and
- the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment’s ability to meet present and future needs.
[ Please refer to the 1987 Report of the World Commission on Environment & Development (WCED): 'Our Common Future' - Chapter 2, Paragraph 1.]
This original definition in the 1987 WCED Report IS appropriate for India … and it must become the core definition at the heart of India’s National Sustainable Buildings Strategy !
A careful reading of the full definition makes it clear that there are Many Aspects to this intricate, open, dynamic and still evolving concept … the most important of which are: Social, Economic, Environmental, Institutional, Political, and Legal.
It is a Fundamental Principle of Sustainability, and one of its Primary Values … that Implementation must be Synchronous, Balanced and Equitable across All Aspects of Sustainability.
The ‘Green Agenda’ merely considers Environmental Aspects of Sustainability … in isolation from all of the other Aspects ! This is a fatal flaw which must be avoided in the Proposed New Part 11 !!
[ I made many references to this issue during the FSAI Conferences in India ! ]
3. Sustainability Impact Assessment (SIA) for India !
Rather than Environmental Impact Assessment … surely the Proposed New Part 11: ‘Approach to Sustainability’ must now use, explain and discuss Sustainability Impact Assessment instead !?!
Sustainability Impact Assessment (SIA)
A continual evaluation and optimization assessment – informing initial decision-making, or design, and shaping activity/product/service realization, useful life and termination, or final disposal – of the interrelated positive and negative social, economic, environmental, institutional, political and legal impacts on the synchronous, balanced and equitable implementation of Sustainable Human & Social Development.
4. A Robust Legal Foundation for ‘Sustainable Human & Social Development’
Paragraph 4 (Chapter 2, 1987 WCED Report) states …
‘ The satisfaction of human needs and aspirations is the major objective of development. The essential needs of vast numbers of people in developing countries – for food, clothing, shelter, jobs – are not being met, and beyond their basic needs these people have legitimate aspirations for an improved quality of life. A world in which poverty and inequity are endemic will always be prone to ecological and other crises. Sustainable development requires meeting the basic needs of all and extending to all the opportunity to satisfy their aspirations for a better life.’
Trying to list the essential needs of people / the basic needs of all is a very difficult task … but it is work which has been on-going, at international level, since just after the Second World War.
The essential needs of people / the basic needs of all … are specified as being Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and are already fully described within the extensive framework of International Legal Rights Instruments.
Which is why, many years ago, SDI developed this definition for Sustainable Human & Social Development … in order:
- to give this concept a robust legal foundation ; and
- (because of widespread confusion in media, political and academic circles) … to clearly establish that we are talking about sustainable human and social development, and not sustainable economic development, or any other type of development !
Sustainable Human & Social Development
Development which meets the responsible needs, i.e. the Human & Social Rights*, of this generation – without stealing the life and living resources from future generations … especially our children, and their children … and the next five generations of children.
*As defined in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
5. Climate Change Adaptation & Resilient Buildings in India ?
Atmospheric Ozone Depletion and Climate Change are mentioned, here and there, in the Proposed New Part 11. The important implications of these phenomena for Sustainable Building Design in India are not explained … at all. Why not ?
To properly respond to these phenomena, both must be integrated into India’s National Sustainability Strategies & Policies.
At the very least … we strongly recommend that Design Guidance on Climate Resilient Buildings be immediately drafted. This guidance must be appropriate for implementation in each of the different climatic regions of India.
6. A Sustainable Indian Built Environment which is Accessible for All !
Barrier Free is mentioned, here and there, in the Proposed New Part 11. This is to be warmly welcomed and congratulated. Under Social Aspects of Sustainable Human & Social Development … this is an essential attribute of a Sustainable Built Environment ! However, no guidance on this subject is given to decision-makers or designers. Why not ?
However, you should be aware that India ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) on 1 October 2007. For your convenience, I have attached copies of the Convention in English, Hindi and Tamil.
You should also be aware that, in December 2011, the International Standards Organization (ISO) published ISO 21542: ‘Building Construction – Accessibility & Usability of the Built Environment’. In its Introduction, ISO 21542 is directly linked to the U.N. Convention … almost like an umbilical cord. The scope of this Standard currently covers public buildings. As the Accessibility Agenda in the U.N. Convention is very broad … much standardization work remains to be finished at international level.
The correct term … Accessibility for All … has been defined in ISO 21542 as including … ‘access to buildings, circulation within buildings and their use, egress from buildings in the normal course of events, and evacuation in the event of an emergency’.
A note at the beginning of the standard also clarifies that Accessibility is an independent activity, i.e. assistance from another person should not be necessary … and that there should be an assurance of individual health, safety and welfare during the course of those (accessibility-related) activities.
In order to fulfil India’s legal obligations as a State Party to the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities … adequate Design Guidance on Accessibility must be included in the Proposed New Part 11, supported by ISO 21542.
In addition, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) should immediately adopt ISO 21542 as the Indian National Standard on Accessibility for All … IS / ISO 21542.
[ I made many references to this issue during the FSAI Conferences in India ! ]
7. Fire Safety & Protection for All in Sustainable Indian Buildings ?
Yes … there is 1 mention of ‘fire safety’ and 40 other references to ‘fire’ in the Proposed New Part 11 … but no design guidance. Why not ?
You should be aware that there is a fundamental conflict between Sustainable Building Design Strategies and the current state-of-the-art in Fire Engineering Design. As a good example … for cooling, heating and/or ventilation purposes in a sustainable building, it is necessary to take advantage of natural patterns of air movement in that building. On the other hand, fire engineers in private practice, and fire prevention officers in Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ’s), will demand that building spaces be strictly compartmented in order to limit the spread of fire and smoke … thereby dramatically interfering with those natural patterns of air movement.
In everyday practice, there is a vast chasm in understanding and communication between these two very different design disciplines. As a result, serious compromises are being enforced on Sustainability Building Performance. If, on the other hand, adequate independent technical control is absent on the site of a Sustainable Building … it is the fire safety and protection which is being seriously compromised.
A range of critical fire safety issues (fatal, in the case of firefighters) are also arising with the Innovative Building Products and Systems being installed in Sustainable Buildings.
Because the emphasis is on pre-construction design ‘intent’ rather than the ‘real’ performance of the completed and occupied building … all of these problems are being conveniently ignored, and they remain hidden from everybody’s view.
This must be addressed in the Proposed New Part 11.
[ I made many references to this issue during the FSAI Conferences in India ! ]
C. J. Walsh – Consultant Architect, Fire Engineer & Technical Controller – Managing Director, Sustainable Design International Ltd. – Ireland, Italy & Turkey.
2013-03-14: The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was adopted on 13 December 2006 at the U.N. Headquarters Building in New York. The Convention was opened for signature on 30 March 2007, when there were 82 Signatories to the Convention, 44 Signatories to its Optional Protocol, and 1 Ratification. Historically, this is the highest number of signatories to a U.N. Convention on its opening day. It is the first comprehensive Human Rights Treaty of the 21st Century. It is also the first Human Rights Convention to be open for signature by regional integration organizations, e.g. the European Union (EU). The Convention entered into force, as an International Legal Instrument, on 3 May 2008.
According to the United Nations … this Convention is intended as a Human Rights Instrument with an explicit social development dimension. It adopts a broad categorization of persons with disabilities, and reaffirms that all persons with all types of disabilities must enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms. It clarifies and qualifies how all categories of rights apply to persons with disabilities and identifies areas where adaptations have to be made for persons with disabilities to effectively exercise their rights and areas where their rights have been violated, and where protection of rights must be reinforced.
I say … that most of the rights specified in this Convention are already contained in other long-established International Human Rights Instruments, e.g. rights to shelter, free movement, education, employment, voting, etc. The critical issue for people with activity limitations has always been, and remains to this day … Lack of Accessibility … which prevents them from effectively and independently exercising their basic rights and fundamental freedoms as individual human beings.
Substantively … this is a United Nations Accessibility for All Rights Convention.
The World Map below illustrates the situation, in October 2012, with regard to the very large numbers of States Parties to the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) …
- 154 Signatories to the Convention ;
- 90 Signatories to the Optional Protocol ;
- 124 Ratifications and Accessions to the Convention ;
- 74 Ratifications and Accessions to the Optional Protocol.
Using the Map, it is simple to identify those ‘other’ countries (nudge-nudge-wink-wink) …
Since October 2012 …
- Singapore signed the Convention on 30 November 2012
- Cambodia ratified the Convention on 20 December 2012
- Albania ratified the Convention on 11 February 2013
- Barbados ratified the Convention on 27 February 2013
HOWEVER … far too many individuals and organizations seem to be content to just settle back and end this good news story at Ratification. They fail to understand that this is only the beginning !
The real challenge ahead will be to ensure that the Convention is Properly Implemented.
The Target before every State Party is … Effective Accessibility for All !!
2013-03-06: Further to an earlier Post, dated 30 November 2012 … on Sustainable Accessibility for All …
Accessibility IS a Fundamental Human Right !
‘ For many Weak and Vulnerable People, today’s Complex Human Environment is inaccessible and unsafe … a hostile ‘reality’ which prevents independent functioning and participation in a local community; it is a blatant denial of their human rights.’
Relevant Human Environment (social – built – virtual - institutional) Factors … factors which are external, or extrinsic, to the context of a person’s life and living situation … include policies and standards, negative attitudes and stigma, lack of services, problems with service delivery, inadequate funding, lack of accessibility in the built environment and to electronic, information and communication technologies, lack of consultation and involvement, and an absence of reliable data and evidence.
Accessibility for All …
Take a really close look at the photograph below … and see a staircase which, in spite of all the legislation in the EU Member States, contravenes almost every accessibility-related design guideline. It is far from being an unusual scene in our European Built Environment …
Now, imagine the consequences of one, tiny slip …
Which is why our concern must be with Accessibility for All … which includes consciously thinking about children under the age of 5 years, women in the later stages of pregnancy, and frail older people (not all older people !) … and how they use and interact with their surroundings.
In addition, however … our attention must also turn to the large numbers of people, in all of our societies, with health conditions which result in serious impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions. As a prime example, consider the Big-4 Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD’s): Cardiovascular Diseases (e.g. heart attacks and stroke), Cancers, Diabetes, and Chronic Lung Diseases.
These 4 NCD’s – targeted in a World Health Organization (WHO) Global NCD Campaign - share health risk factors (tobacco use, unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity, harmful alcohol use) … cause more than 36 million deaths annually (almost 80 % of deaths, from such diseases, occur in low and middle-income countries) … and result in a high proportion of disability (66.5 % of all years lived with disability in low and middle income countries).
NCD’s can limit one or more of a person’s major life and living activities … such as walking, eating, communicating, and caring-for-oneself. Examples of common NCD-related impairments include paralysis due to stroke, and amputation as a result of diabetic neuropathy.
When Easily Assimilated Signage IS Essential in Buildings …
Good Architectural Design IS ‘intuitive and obvious’ for building users … design characteristics which are critical in the case of Fire Engineering Design. However, what is intuitive and obvious in Ireland may not be so intuitive and obvious in Turkey … and what is intuitive and obvious in Europe will certainly not be intuitive and obvious in Africa, India, or China.
Architectural & Fire Engineering Design must, therefore, be adapted to Local conditions … culture, social need, etc., etc.
When a building is NOT ‘intuitive and obvious’ for the broad range of potential building users … easily assimilated signage IS essential …
International Standard ISO 21542: ‘Building Construction – Accessibility & Usability of the Built Environment’ was published in December 2011, as a full standard. In its Introduction, ISO 21542 is linked to the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) … almost like an umbilical cord.
The scope of ISO 21542 covers public buildings. The Accessibility Agenda in the U.N. Convention is very broad … so much standardization work remains to be completed at international level.
Concerning Accessibility Symbols and Signs … reference should be made to ISO 21542: Clause 41 – Graphical Symbols … and on Pages 106, 107, 108, and 109 … the following will be found:
- Figure 66 – Accessible Facility or Entrance ;
- Figure 67 – Sloped or Ramped Access ;
- Figure 68 – Accessible Toilets (male & female) ;
- Figure 69 – Accessible Toilets (female) ;
- Figure 70 – Accessible Toilets (male) ;
- Figure 71 – Accessible Lift / Elevator ;
- Figure 72 – Accessible Emergency Exit Route.
I use the word ‘accessibility’, and not ‘access’ … because Accessibility has been defined in ISO 21542 as including … ‘access to buildings, circulation within buildings and their use, egress from buildings in the normal course of events, and evacuation in the event of an emergency’.
A note at the beginning of the standard also clarifies that Accessibility is an independent activity, i.e. assistance should not be necessary … and that there should be an assurance of individual health, safety and welfare during the course of those (accessibility-related) activities.
During the very long gestation of ISO 21542, an overwhelming consensus emerged in favour of using the term Accessibility for All … thereby sidestepping the thorny issue of different design philosophies which are described as being accessibility-related but, in practice, are limited and/or no longer fit-for-purpose.
The Accessibility Symbol used throughout ISO 21542 is shown above. I know that a small group of people from different countries worked very hard on this particular part of the standard. My only contribution was in relation to the inclusion of Figure 72, concerning Fire Evacuation.
This ‘accessibility’ symbol is an attractive, modern and, of course, abstract representation of a concept … a person with an activity limitation using a wheelchair. The symbol succeeds very well in communicating that concept.
However … as an Accessibility for All Symbol … encompassing people with other than functional impairments, e.g. hearing and visual impairments … and children under the age of 5 years, women in the later stages of pregnancy, frail older people … and people with the four main types of non-communicable disease discussed above … is this symbol, also, limited and no longer fit-for-purpose ??
Shown next, above, is the proposal for a new Area of Rescue Assistance Sign … which is contained in ISO 7010:2011 / FDAM 115 (2013). While it is nice to finally see this Safety Sign appear in the mainstream of safety signage … the title being proposed for the sign and the explanatory texts which accompany it are very problematic …
- The technical term being proposed – Evacuation Temporary Refuge – is too long and too difficult to understand ;
- The explanatory texts which accompany this Sign are very confusing and misleading.
This problem has arisen because the people who drafted ISO 7010:2011 / FDAM 115 (2013) hadn’t a bull’s notion that ISO 21542 even existed !
In ISO 21542, we use the term Area of Rescue Assistance … which is easy for everybody to understand, including building users, building managers and firefighters, etc., etc.
We also explained, in ISO 21542, that a Place of Safety is a remote distance from the building … not anywhere inside the building !
Mainstreaming Disability …
U.N. CRPD – Preamble
(g) Emphasizing the importance of mainstreaming disability issues as an integral part of relevant strategies of sustainable development,
As ‘disability’ moves closer towards … and is integrated and fully included in the ‘mainstream’ of sustainable community life and living … it is absolutely imperative that individuals and organizations who make up the Disability Sector become much more cohesive (far less fractious within) … that they begin to fully understand the practices and procedures of the mainstream … and actively and robustly engage with that mainstream.
It is ridiculous, for example, that a large amount of the Sector’s energy is still being diverted into meaningless meditations and endless tracts on whether it is ‘universal design’, or ‘design-for-all’, or ‘inclusive design’, or ‘facilitation design’, etc … when an entirely new design paradigm is being demanded by a world (our small planet when seen from the moon !), which is experiencing enormous levels of human poverty, natural resource shortages, human rights violations, and severe weather events. The overriding priority must be ‘real’ implementation … Effective Accessibility for All !
And … Effective Accessibility for All is but one component of …
‘Social Wellbeing for All in a Sustainable Built Environment’
Refer also to …
2013-01-13: The 13th … a lucky day !
As we drive harder and deeper (at least some of us anyway ?) towards a future of Sustainable Human & Social Development … or are forcefully driven by the anthropogenic (man-made) pressures of Resource Shortages (e.g. water - food - energy) and Climate Change, in the case of millions of people living in poverty throughout the world … or are dragged screaming, which I fear will have to be the solution with the privileged classes in every society who are addicted to lavish and wasteful lifestyles and who show absolutely no interest in either Climate Change or Resource Shortages until they rear up and bite them in the ass (!!) … there is a desperate need for a more complex and precise language of Sustainability, which will give shape to the innovative trans-sectoral concepts and trans-disciplinary policy and decision-making support tools required for Tangible/’Real’ Sustainability & Climate Resilience Implementation.
At the time of writing, the Principal Challenge before us is …
Transforming Social Organization … the Ultimate Goal being to arrive quickly at a dynamic and harmonious balance between a Sustainable Human Environment and a flourishing, not just a surviving, Natural Environment … with the Overall Aim of achieving Social Wellbeing for All.
Climate Change did not directly cause Hurricane Sandy, a severe weather event which hit the Caribbean and the East Coast of the USA during October 2012 … but it was a significant contributing factor. Scenes like those in the photograph below will be experienced far more frequently in the future.
This is not Manhattan, in New York City … so, is the development shown below to be removed altogether … or renewed with the necessary and very costly construction of a massive system of flood protection measures ? Not an easy choice. Which choice would be more sustainable ?
However … WHEN, not IF … Average Global Temperatures rise above 1.5 degrees Celsius, many Small Island Developing States (SIDS) will suffer a similar fate … permanently …
The Type of Lightweight Development in the foreground of the photograph below … damaged beyond repair or re-construction during Hurricane Sandy, is not Resilient … which is a different concept to Robust, or Robustness.
Notice the building in the background, on the left, which appears to have survived fully intact … why ??
In complete contrast … the Type of Development, below, is more Resilient. Furthermore, however, as a normal human reaction to decades of aggressive, but ultimately unsuccessful, political bullying and economic assault by the USA, the Social Fabric of Cuba is very strong … making this a Resilient Human Environment …
So … what is a Resilient Human Environment … particularly in the context of Sustainable Climate Change Adaptation ?
What do we mean by Transforming Social Organization ??
And … as we drive forward, harder and deeper … why is it critical that we practice a balanced, synchronous approach … across ALL Aspects of Sustainability … to Tangible Sustainability & Climate Resilience Implementation ???
Let us confront some more interesting new words and thought-provoking concepts …
2012 – ESDN Quarterly Report Number 26 - Umberto Pisano, Author
Click the Link Above to read and/or download a PDF File (2.17 Mb)
Abridged Executive Summary
The term resilience originated in the 1970′s in the field of ecology from the research of C.S.Holling, who defined resilience as ‘a measure of the persistence of systems and of their ability to absorb change and disturbance and still maintain the same relationships between populations or state variables’. In short, resilience is defined as ‘the ability of a system to absorb disturbances and still retain its basic function and structure’, and as ‘the capacity to change in order to maintain the same identity’.
Resilience can best be described by three crucial characteristics: (1) the amount of disturbance a system can absorb and still remain within the same state or domain of attraction; (2) the degree to which the system is capable of self-organization; and (3) the ability to build and increase the capacity for learning and adaptation.
In the need for persistence, we can find a first connection with sustainable development. Sustainable development has the objective of creating and maintaining prosperous social, economic, and ecological systems. Humanity has a need for persistence. And since humanity depends on services of ecosystems for its wealth and security, humanity and ecosystems are deeply linked. As a result, humanity has the imperative of striving for resilient socio-ecological systems in light of sustainable development.
Resilience thinking is inevitably systems thinking at least as much as sustainable development is. In fact, ‘when considering systems of humans and nature (socio-ecological systems) it is important to consider the system as a whole. The human domain and the biophysical domain are interdependent’. In this framework where resilience is aligned with systems thinking, three concepts are crucial to grasp: (1) humans live and operate in social systems that are inextricably linked with the ecological systems in which they are embedded; (2) socio-ecological systems are complex adaptive systems that do not change in a predictable, linear, incremental fashion; and (3) resilience thinking provides a framework for viewing a socio-ecological system as one system operating over many linked scales of time and space. Its focus is on how the system changes and copes with disturbance.
To fully understand resilience theory, the report focuses therefore on the explanation of a number of crucial concepts: thresholds, the adaptive cycle, panarchy, resilience, adaptability, and transformability.
As shown, humanity and ecosystems are deeply linked. This is also the fundamental reason why to adopt the resilience-thinking framework is a necessity for governance. The resilience perspective shifts policies from those that aspire to control change in systems assumed to be stable, to managing the capacity of socio–ecological systems to cope with, adapt to, and shape change. It is argued that managing for resilience enhances the likelihood of sustaining desirable pathways for development, particularly in changing environments where the future is unpredictable and surprise is likely.
This exposes the strong need for Sustainable Development Governance to embrace resilience thinking. It is not only about being trans-disciplinary and avoiding partial and one-viewpoint solutions; what is needed to solve today’s problems – and especially those linked to sustainable development – is a new approach that considers humans as a part of Earth’s ecosystems, and one in which policies can more effectively cope with, adapt to, and shape change.
In this scenario, the concept and key characteristics of so-called adaptive governance seem to be a practical means for societies to deal with the complex issues that socio-ecological systems are confronted with. Therefore, adaptive governance is best understood as an approach that unites those environmental and natural resource management approaches that share some or all of the following principles: polycentric and multi-layered institutions, participation and collaboration, self-organization and networks, and learning and innovation. Additionally, four interactive crucial aspects for adaptive governance are suggested: (1) to build knowledge and understanding of resource and ecosystem dynamics; (2) to feed ecological knowledge into adaptive management practices; (3) to support flexible institutions and multilevel governance systems; and,(4) to deal with external disturbances, uncertainty, and surprise. Therefore, nine values toward a resilient world are also suggested: diversity, ecological variability, modularity, acknowledging slow variables, tight feedbacks, social capital, innovation, overlap in governance, and ecosystem services.
Finally, three examples analyse practical instances in terms of resilience: (1) the approach taken by the so-called climate change adaptation discourse; (2) the Kristianstad Water Vattenrike, a wetland in southern Sweden that showed problems with loss of wet meadows, decline of water quality, and a disappearing wildlife habitat; and 3) the Goulburn-Broken Catchment from the State of Victoria (Australia). Some lessons can be drawn from these three cases. From the first case, governance structures have direct implications for the level of flexibility in responding to future change as well as variation in local contexts. Sensitivity to feedbacks relates both to the timing as well as where these feedbacks occur. Therefore, learning is more likely if feedbacks occur soon relative to action, and if those most affected by feedbacks are those responsible for the action. Additionally, the way in which a problem is conceptually framed determines the way in which responses are identified and evaluated and therefore influences the range of response characteristics. Second, the example from Sweden revealed that (a) the imposition of a set of rules to protect an ecosystem from the outside will not ensure the natural qualities of a region will be preserved over time. One size never fits all, and an understanding of local history and culture needs to be integrated into the management if local values are to be looked after; (b) for an organization to meaningfully deal with complexity at many scales, it needs to include representatives from each of these levels in the social network; (c) several organizations need to be prepared to contribute to a shared vision and build consensus and leadership – crucial components in adaptability and transformability. Third, the Goulburn-Broken story demonstrates the critical importance of understanding the underlying variables that drive a socio-ecological system, knowing where thresholds lie along these variables, and knowing how much disturbance it will take to push the system across these thresholds.
2012-11-30: Related specifically to my 2 Previous Posts on 27 November 2012 & 28 November 2012 … this is how we would like to help you … whether you are an individual, or an organization … whether you are located in Ireland, Italy or Turkey … some other part of Europe, the Arab Gulf Region, India, Japan, China … or wherever !
And … we can, if requested or necessary, work in collaboration with local partners in those different geographical regions.
For many Weak and Vulnerable People, today’s Complex Human Environment is inaccessible and unsafe … a hostile ‘reality’ which prevents independent functioning and participation in a local community; it is a blatant denial of their human rights.
Restrictions on Social Participation, e.g. physical barriers, sloppy user-unfriendly management procedures, discrimination, stigma, etc … also limit the Use Potential of buildings, transportation systems, public spaces and other facilities … shortening product life cycles.
These factors impose a large, negative cost burden on society generally … and on you, as an individual … or as an organization, whether private or public. It is bad business !
SDI’s Commitment to You
As a necessary response to the New Paradigm of ‘Accessibility’ mandated by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and elaborated in greater detail by International Standard ISO 21542 : 2011 -
WE are committed to … the implementation of a Sustainable Human Environment which is Effectively Accessible for All … through the use of innovative, person-centred and reliability-based sustainable design practices and procedures.
SDI’s Accessibility Services
- WE will advise you on Accessibility Policy, Accessibility Strategy Development, Accessibility Implementation … and, whether you are within or from outside the European Union, on CE Marking of Accessibility Related Construction Products ;
- WE understand the process of Design, particularly the new language of Sustainable Design … and we will produce Creative Accessibility Solutions for Your Project ;
- WE are thoroughly familiar with the intricacies of Building Sites … and we will verify and/or validate Design Compliance during construction, and at project completion … and, if requested or necessary, as a completely Independent Technical Controller ;
- WE communicate easily and effectively with other Professional Design Disciplines, including fire engineers … and we will act as fully participating members of Your Project Design & Construction Team ;
- WE practice in accordance with a comprehensive Professional Code of Ethics.
Sustainable Accessibility Solutions ?
- Are adapted to Local Geography, Climate/Climate Change, Social Need, Culture, Economy … and Severe Events (e.g. earthquakes and flooding) ;
- Are ‘Person-Centred’, i.e. that design process which places ‘real’ people at the centre of creative endeavours and gives due consideration to their responsible needs, and their health, safety, welfare and security in the Human Environment ;
- Are ‘Reliability-Based’, i.e. that design process based on practical experience, competence and an examination of real extreme events, e.g. 2001 WTC 9-11 & 2008 Mumbai Attacks, and 2011 Fukushima Nuclear Incident … rather than theory alone.
SDI’s Contact Information
International Phone: +353 1 8386078 / National Phone: (01) 8386078
Important Note: This Post should be read in conjunction with an earlier Post …
It is there, not here, that we define Sustainable Human & Social Development … and describe how our Practice is responding to this open, intricate, dynamic, and still evolving concept. The resulting transformation in how frontline services are provided to our Clients/Client Organizations ensures a much more comfortable ‘fit’ to their needs … and a greater level of protection, safety and security for society !
2012-11-28: On Monday last, 26 November 2012 … Fire broke out at a Sheltered Workshop for People with Activity Limitations, located in the small municipality of Titisee-Neustadt, south-western Germany … not too far from the borders of France and Switzerland. It was approximately 14.00 hrs in the afternoon … in broad daylight.
German news reports put the death toll at 14 People, including 1 Carer … with 10 People injured.
News reports also state that it took 2 Hours for Firefighters to bring this incident under control. At the time that Photograph 1, below, was taken … smoke had spread throughout a major part of the building.
Viewers should look closely at the top of the external staircase … then, ask yourselves how any person with an activity limitation can be safely rescued, or assisted to evacuate, by means of a ladder (obscured, at the end of the building on the left) … and, finally, notice the positioning of fire hoses on the ground and on the staircase … some of the many issues which have been discussed extensively here before …
2005 NIST(USA) Final Report on 9-11 World Trade Center 1 & 2 Tower Collapses
- Recommendation #17b -
To the degree possible, people with activity limitations should be provided with a means for self-evacuation in the event of a building emergency. Current strategies (and law) generally require these people to shelter-in-place and await assistance. New procedures, which provide redundancy in the event that the fire warden system or co-worker assistance (e.g. the buddy system) fail, should consider full building evacuation, and may include use of fire-protected and structurally hardened elevators, motorized evacuation technology, and dedicated communication technologies.
At the heart of the impressive show of fire fighting equipment and technology … and the usual reassuring statements by local officials and other people in authority after the event … there is an equally impressive lie …
Current Building Codes and Regulations, Fire Safety Standards, Building Design Practices, and Building Management Procedures … do not seriously consider the safety of People with Activity Limitations … not properly - not adequately - not even INadequately. Tokenism is the best offer available in just a few European countries.
According to Spiegel OnLine International …
The rescue was difficult because some people panicked, said Local Fire Chief Alexander Widmaier. ”We are dealing here with people who naturally do not respond rationally”, he said.
IF this is an accurate news report, and bearing in mind that it is also a translation … I SAY …
Let us be generous and kind … Local Fire Chief Alexander Widmaier has NO awareness or understanding of People with Activity Limitations and the daily challenges they face in moving around and using a built environment which is inaccessible and unsafe.
According to AFP OnLine …
Gotthard Benitz, of the Titisee-Neustadt fire service, told AFP earlier that the fire began on the ground floor of the building which also had a basement and an upper floor.
“The victims were all on the same floor where the fire was”, he said adding this was the only area to have sustained fire damage and the stairwell had remained smoke-free meaning those on the other two floors had been able to use it.
He also said firefighters were prepared for dealing with an emergency at the workshop as practice fire alarms were regularly carried out there, with the last one having been last year.
The head of Caritas in Germany, Peter Neher, told ZDF public television that emergency practice drills were done regularly.
IF this is an accurate news report, and bearing in mind that it is also a translation … I SAY …
Gotthard Benitz should also look at the top of the external staircase in Photograph 1 above. IF there are no circulation hazards, e.g. ice, or obstacles, e.g. fire hoses … able-bodied people can easily go up or down a staircase … people who use wheelchairs or other mobility-aid devices cannot.
In their respective positions of responsibility … Gotthard Benitz and Peter Neher should both understand that all building occupants must be facilitated in acquiring the skill of evacuation to a ‘place of safety’, by way of a safe and accessible route. An emergency practice drill, although carried out regularly once a year … is ENTIRELY inadequate … and will achieve Very Little.
Skill: The ability of a person – resulting from training and regular practice – to carry out complex, well-organized patterns of behaviour efficiently and adaptively, in order to achieve some end or goal.
Standard fire evacuation training and practice drill procedures must be adapted to the individual-specific abilities of People with Activity Limitations.
BUT … the new International Standard ISO 21542 is a very small step in the right direction. See yesterday’s post.
This situation will only improve to a significant degree, however, when People with Activity Limitations, and their Representative Organizations, begin to act decisively, in unison, and with serious intent …
Self-Protection from Fire in Buildings – Personal Check List for People with Activity Limitations
1. Upgrade ‘My’ understanding of Accessibility …
Ease of independent approach, entry, egress, evacuation and/or use of a building and its services and facilities, by all of the building’s potential users – with an assurance of individual Health, Safety and Welfare during the course of those activities ;
2. Be assertive (not aggressive) with regard to ‘My’ own self-protection in emergency situations ;
3. Concerning ‘My’ safety … demand that Building Management actively engages in Meaningful Consultation – and receives your Informed Consent ;
4. Become familiar with the Fire Defence Plan for the building, and know ‘My’ part well ;
5. Practice - practice - practice … become skilled in evacuation to a Place of Safety ;
6. Become involved, and participate directly in the Building’s Safety Procedures.
Self-Protection from Fire in Buildings - Must-Do List for Representative Organizations & Groups
1. Upgrade ‘Our’ understanding of Accessibility in a Social Context, its Current Vocabulary, and its Complexity … groups of individuals wish to socialize together … this is now, afterall, a recognised human and social right !
Ease of independent approach, entry, egress, evacuation and/or use of a building and its services and facilities, by all of the building’s potential users – with an assurance of individual Health, Safety and Welfare, and group Wellbeing, during the course of those activities ;
2. Be assertive (and aggressive) with regard to the availability of proper Data and Statistics – we must clearly identify ‘Our’ problem with the many restrictions placed on our participation in local communities ;
3. Produce a working statement of an Individual’s Rights – on 1 Page (!) ;
4. Issue clear guidelines on Reliable Advocacy ;
5. Become involved, and participate directly in the improvement of Building Codes and Regulations, Fire Safety Standards, Building Design Practices, and Building Management Procedures ;
6. Demand resources to Monitor ‘Effective’ Implementation … and Target Relevant and ‘Practical’ Research.
2012-11-27: On Friday last, 23 November 2012, I had the great pleasure of being invited to attend the 2012 IIEA/TEPSA Irish EU Presidency Conference, which was held in Dublin Castle, Ireland. The Programme was interesting and diverse … but lacked a vital element …
- Session 1 – Priorities of the Irish EU Presidency ;
- Session 2 – Economic Governance & Economic Monetary Union ;
- Session 3 – Innovation & the Digital/Energy Interface ;
- Session 4 – The European Union in the World.
Although the serious problem of Youth Unemployment in Europe was discussed (from an economic perspective), and the Ageing Society received a passing mention … there was hardly any consideration of EU Citizenship and the many other Soft Social Issues … with, surprise-surprise, no reference at all to the Weak and Vulnerable Groups of People in all of our countries.
Furthermore … I don’t know whether they were invited to the Dublin EU Presidency Conference … and if they were, whether they couldn’t attend … but I did not notice a significant presence of representatives from Irish Disability Organizations at this important event.
Conference Delegates needed to hear that the European Union is for All of its People … not just its Citizens ! That distinction is critical.
Which sets the scene, in an odd way, for the following e-mail message I recently sent through the EUropean Concept for Accessibility Network (EuCAN) … a network of European Accessibility Experts, co-ordinated from Luxembourg by Mr. Silvio Sagramola …
To EuCAN Network Members:
With some concern, I have been following the discussion about Access Officers.
Allow me to explain.
Once upon a time … at a meeting of the EuCAN Management Team in Luxembourg … there was an intense discussion about ‘Accessibility & Human Rights’. Now that the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has been adopted, entered into force, and been ratified by the European Union and many, though not all, of the EU Member States … I hope that this issue has finally been resolved.
Therefore … the immediate, Pan-European Accessibility Agenda can be found in Articles 9, 11 and 19 of the Convention … all within the context of Preamble Paragraph (g).
BUT … is any organization yet working with this Agenda … and, most importantly, implementing it properly ?
AND … let us not forget that Independent Mechanisms to Monitor Implementation are an essential component of the same Agenda (Article 33.2) … at European, national, and sub-national levels, right down to individual public and private organizations !
Accessibility has been clearly specified in the new International Standard ISO 21542: ‘Building Construction – Accessibility & Usability of the Built Environment’ as including … ‘access to buildings, circulation within buildings and their use, egress from buildings in the normal course of events, and evacuation in the event of an emergency‘.
The flawed framework, founded on the term ‘Access’ alone, is now obsolete. And, therefore, the Access Officer is no more. Let us all finally agree that the responsible individual, whether he or she, is an Accessibility Officer !
If the EuCAN Network is to have a useful and constructive future, this is the New Legal & Normative Environment which it must confront, carefully examine … and, in support of which, it should produce design guidance, decision-making computer software tools, etc., etc … for the practical purpose of ‘real’ implementation.
AND … any proposed EuCAN Programme of Action (2013-2015) should also include a review and updating of past publications.
Some Points To Note:
1. Although the European Union ratified the U.N. CRPD on 23 December 2010 … European Commissioner Viviane Reding (Justice, Fundamental Rights & Citizenship) stated at a Dublin Meeting, in answer to my direct question, that some Member States are offering stiff resistance to integration of the Convention into the EU System. Why isn’t the European Disability Forum on top of this ? But also … the European Union has not yet either signed, or ratified, the Convention’s Optional Protocol.
2. At the time of writing … Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Norway (EEA) … have still not ratified the Convention. Why not ? Where is the outcry from disability organizations in those countries ??
In Ireland, unfortunately, national decision-makers would rather commit ritual suicide outside government buildings than acknowledge an individual citizen’s human rights. And, if Ireland ever does ratify the Convention, proper implementation will be very problematic.
Am I exaggerating ? Not at all … just look at how Ireland has implemented the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, which it ratified back in September 1992.
3. In EU Member States that have ratified the U.N. CRPD … the Convention is not always being implemented properly.
Towards the end of the following Blog Post … http://www.cjwalsh.ie/2011/10/public-procurement-design-for-all-its-crunch-time-folks/ … I have discussed the Concluding Observations on the Initial Report of Spain (September 2011 Session of the U.N. Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities).
4. Preamble Paragraph (g) of the U.N. CRPD is even more important, now, for this reason … the United Nations has started to develop the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals. It is essential to fully integrate Ability/Disability Issues into this process. Making a submission to the U.N. could be an interesting task for EuCAN.
5. The Fire Safety Texts contained in ISO 21542 are essentially just a bare minimum … and they are mostly in the form of recommendations (‘should’), not requirements (‘shall’). There is a great need to add extra detail to those texts … and to convert them into requirements. Making a series of submissions to the International Standards Organization (ISO) should be a task for EuCAN.
C.J. Walsh, Sustainable Design International Ltd. – Ireland, Italy & Turkey.
EUropean Concept for Accessibility (EuCAN) – Extract from 2001 Mission Statement
The fundamental basis of a European philosophy for accessibility is the recognition, acceptance and fostering – at all levels in society – of the rights of all human beings, including people with activity limitations … in an ensured context of high human health, safety, comfort and environmental protection. Accessibility for All is an essential attribute of a ‘person-centred’, sustainable built environment.
An Effectively Accessible Europe for All
Now that a Comprehensive Legal and Normative Environment for Accessibility has finally been created in Europe … there is a vital need for EuCAN for serve … and a vital role for EuCAN to play.
However … Concerted Action must be directed at Implementation … Effective Implementation … ‘real’ accessibility which works.
Enough talk - Enough tokenism !!
2012-05-31: The International Standard, ISO 21542: ‘Building Construction – Accessibility & Usability of the Built Environment’, was published back in December 2011. A few years before that, however, a decision was taken to link this Standard directly to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) … specifically referencing Preamble Paragraph (g) and Articles 9, 10 and 11 in its Introduction. Reading the document now, this linkage looks and feels very naturally like an umbilical cord !
ISO 21542 has significantly widened the meaning of the concept ‘Accessibility-for-All’ … a normal evolutionary process. I wonder, though, how many people would ever have considered Good Indoor Air Quality to be on the ‘Accessibility’ Menu ??
Much lower rates of direct fresh air ventilation … and a dramatic reduction in accidental or unintended air seepage from, or into, buildings (depending on local climate conditions) … all driven by a pressing need to conserve energy and to impose greater energy efficiencies on the energy which is actually consumed … are, once again, one of the main causes of serious problems for ALL building users …
Building Related Ill-Health: Any adverse impact on the health of building users – while living, working, generally occupying or visiting a specific building – caused by the planning, design, construction, management, operation or maintenance of that building.
I say “once again”, because we have been here before in Europe … after the oil crises of the 1970′s.
Anyway … I thought that it would be useful to present a relevant extract from ISO 21542 …
B.8 – INDOOR AIR QUALITY (IAQ)
Poor indoor air quality, an important factor in relation to Building Related Ill-Health (also known as ‘sick building syndrome’), can cause serious health impairments and severely restrict a person’s participation in everyday activities, e.g. work.
Symptoms and signs may include:
- irritation of eyes, nose and throat ;
- respiratory infections and cough ;
- voice hoarseness and wheezing ;
- asthma ;
- dry mucous membrane and skin ;
- erythema (reddening or inflammation of the skin) ;
- lethargy ;
- mental fatigue and poor concentration ;
- headache ;
- stress ;
- hypersensitivity reactions, i.e. allergies ;
- nausea and dizziness ;
These symptoms and signs are present in the population at large, but are distinguished by being more prevalent in some building users, as a group, when compared with others. The symptoms and signs may disappear, or may be reduced in intensity, when an affected person leaves the building. It is not necessary that everyone in a building should be affected before building related ill-health is suspected.
ISO 16814: ‘Building Environment Design – Indoor Air Quality – Methods of Expressing the Quality of Indoor Air for Human Occupancy’ covers methods of expressing indoor air quality (IAQ) and incorporating the goal of achieving good IAQ into the building design process. It also covers ventilation effectiveness, harmful emissions from building materials, air cleaning devices, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment.
The indoor pollutants considered in ISO 16814 include human bio-effluents, which have often been the principal consideration in air quality and ventilation design, but also the groups and sources of pollutants which can reasonably be anticipated to occur in the building during its long life cycle.
These pollutants, depending on the sources present, may include:
- volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) and other organics, such as formaldehyde ;
- environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) ;
- natural radon, consisting of a number of different isotopes, is an invisible radioactive gas, and is found in the soils under buildings, water supplies to buildings and in the air ;
- other inorganic gases, such as carbon monoxide (CO), the oxides of nitrogen (NOx), and low-level ozone (smog) which is formed when NOx and VOC’s react in the presence of sunlight ;
- viable particles, including viruses, bacteria and fungal spores ;
- non-viable biological pollutants, such as particles of mites or fungi and their metabolic products ;
- non-viable particles, such as dusts and fibres.
The following Two Performance Indicators of Good Indoor Air Quality, developed with the aim of protecting human health, are recommended:
- Radon Activity (incl. Rn-222, Rn-220, RnD) in a building should, on average, fall within the range of 10-40 Bq/m3, but should at no time exceed 60 Bq/m3.
- Carbon Dioxide (CO2) concentrations in a building should not significantly exceed average external levels – typically within the range of 300-500 parts per million (ppm) – and should at no time exceed 800 ppm.
- MTC on Spectacular Dawn over Amandola (FM), in Italy – 28 April 2013 !
- Farrokh Rostami Kia on Health & Safety at a Construction Site in Osaka, Japan
- Brandi on ‘Sustainable Accessibility for All’ – An SDI Professional Service
- therese on Accessible Toilet Room in a Japanese Public Place – Kanazawa
- noel on Fixing ‘Priory Hall’ in Dublin – Practical Solutions Needed Now !
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